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Review: The new Beatles Bibliography: lots of information, but not user-friendly

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As a writer, editor and compiler of Beatles history over the last 15 years, I am well aware of the massive number of books and magazine articles that have been published on The Beatles. As a result, I agree that there is a great need for a resource which compiles a list of significant Beatles literature. I was excited to hear that in 2012 Michael Brocken and Melissa Davis had compiled a new book called The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature.

While The Beatles Bibliography does not attempt to include every book that has ever been written on The Beatles, it strives to include those writings which are historically significant in the authors’ opinion. The 600-page paperback volume is intended as a reference book for future Beatles historians, or anyone doing research on the biggest band of the 20th century.

The reference book contains almost 3,000 entries listing books, academic papers and newspaper and magazine articles that have been published on The Beatles from the 1960s to the present day. Some entries have long descriptions explaining their relevance while other entries have no description and therefore, no explanation of why they were included. Also, some Beatles authors are listed multiple times due to the multiple titles they have produced on The Beatles.

However, this Beatles researcher was disappointed by the format of the book. The first 500 pages list all of the entries in alphabetical order by author’s name. However, this format presents a problem: If I am looking for a book to assist in a topic I am researching on The Beatles, I will most likely have no idea what the author’s name is for literature on that specific topic. For example, if I am researching the “Paul Is Dead” hoax, I will have to read the entire Beatles Bibliography until I find a book about that topic. In this case, The Beatles Bibliography (which we assume is created to help us all save time in our research) offers no help. I’d have quicker results if I typed in “Paul Is Dead” hoax on the internet.

By definition, an annotated bibliography is organized by alphabetical order of author’s name. Unfortunately, this format is only useful or user-friendly if you already know the name of the author of the book or magazine article you are interested in (or knowing the title which can be utilized in the “Title-Author Cross Reference” section in the back). Then you can look up the specific piece of literature and see what Brocken and Davis say about it. Although as mentioned before, not all the entries have descriptions.

I would have much preferred a bibliography that was organized by topic or even chronology. Regarding topic, I’m not talking really specific categories, but rather broad/general topics like: Overall biography of the band, Recording Analysis, Autobiographies of The Beatles and their friends (there’s a lot of those), Biographies of each solo member, etc. If organizing by chronology, I’d like to see a list of biographies on The Beatles starting from the 1960s when The Beatles were still together and then up to the present day. Chronology is important because generally most biographies build on the biographies that came before.

While I appreciate all the hard work and hours of research that went into compiling this volume, I wish the authors had taken a different route with their format. With the quickness and ease of searching on the internet and the massive amount of customer reviews on books, I’m not sure how useful The Beatles Bibliography really is to a technology-savvy Beatles researcher.

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—Trina Yannicos

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One thought on “Review: The new Beatles Bibliography: lots of information, but not user-friendly

  1. I love the music of the beatles , they were truly revolutionary , but unfortunately they had to disband

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